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TERM PAPER IDEAS / ESSAY TOPICS / BOOK REPORT TOPICS
1. Choose any four of Tom's adventures and show how they express his character-for example, his inventiveness, his romantic nature, his drive to be the center of attention.
2. Show how the different backgrounds of Tom and Huck might have contributed to their contrasting characters.
3. Explain how Becky Thatcher's behavior makes her no more of a "model girl" than Tom is a "model boy."
4. How might Injun Joe's actions be explained as the result of racial injustice?
1. In what ways is Tom Sawyer a portrait of a small-town society?
2. How does Twain exploit the setting to develop characters and adventures?
3. In your view, does St. Petersburg live up to its name-as a heavenly place?
• LITERARY TOPICS
1. "Satire," says the English writer Ian Jack, "is born of the instinct to protest; it is protest become art." In what way does Tom Sawyer fit Jack's definition of satire?
2. Discuss the first two paragraphs of Chapter 14 and the storm scene in Chapter 16 as examples of Twain's ability to describe nature.
3. Discuss Twain's criticism of the compositions read on Examination Night.
1. Discuss the roles of vanity and revenge in Tom Sawyer.
2. Discuss Tom Sawyer as an exploration of the conflict between adults and children.
3. Show how death-either real, imagined, or threatened-is present throughout Tom Sawyer.
1. Analyze the sources of Tom's leadership ability.
2. How do the superstitions recorded in the novel contribute to the plot and characterizations?
3. Explain how Tom Sawyer appeals to nostalgia-the longing for the past.
4. How would you account for Tom Sawyer's appeal to people of all ages and all nationalities?